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Customer data integration challenges: Customer identification

Retail is an industry full of customer data integration (CDI) challenges, especially when it comes to customer identification. However, retailers are getting really good at reconciling customer data from across different sales channels and unifying it into a single view of the customer.

I'm in retail working with our volatile data. We have so many issues in dealing with customer identifiers for querying. Where as we used to rely solely on phone numbers for customer identification, we no longer can because of the emergence of cell phones. What are your thoughts, and how do you think customer data integration (CDI) technology will adapt to meet similar needs?
As you probably know, retail is an industry full of customer data integration challenges, especially when it comes to customer identification. Not sure what market segment you're in, but I know that when I go to my local convenience store and pick up a SlimFast and a Milky Way, I pay cash. Thus, apart from product stock information, there's no impact on the store's data.

Retailers are getting really good at reconciling customer data from across different sales channels--be they brick...

and mortar, web site, catalog or telephone--and unifying it into a single view of the customer. And they're doing this at the operational level, so they'll know that I've been on the web site within an hour or two of my coming into the store. The good news is that a single identifier, like phone number, is nice but not imperative. With CDI, a company can take a handful of key customer identification attributes--say like phone number, street address and birth date--and come up with a reliable and re-usable customer identifier that can be used to pinpoint that customer across systems. So you no longer need to designate a unique phone number across your systems in order to identify a unique customer.

With customer data integration the capabilities are more reliable and robust, and you can find the actual customer you're after. Unless, that is, she pays cash for that candy bar!

This was last published in July 2006

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